Skip to comments.Plattsmouth man sues Wal-Mart, says overfilled plastic bag led to wife's death
Posted on 08/28/2013 5:42:49 PM PDT by kevcol
A Plattsmouth woman's widower has sued Wal-Mart and the maker of its plastic bags, alleging an overfilled bag given to her at a Bellevue store broke, and, in a strange twist, led to her death.
William Freis of Plattsmouth said his wife, Lynette, went grocery shopping April 16, 2010, at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on 15th Street and the cashier gave her one plastic bag for two 42-ounce cans of La Choy and a 2-pound bag of rice.
On her way to the car, the bag broke and one of the cans of La Choy fell on her right foot, breaking her big toe and causing a deep cut, the lawsuit says.
William Freis' attorney, Gage Cobb, said that led to an infection.
Despite multiple rounds of antibiotics and two surgical procedures, Lynette Freis' condition declined and infection spread throughout her body, which led to hospitalizations "and ultimately resulted in her death on March 12, 2011," according to the lawsuit.
Freis originally sued Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the distributor of its plastic bags, Missouri-based Bunzl Distribution, and the manufacturer, Hilex Poly Co. of South Carolina, in Sarpy County District Court.
Late last week, the case was transferred to U.S. District Court in Omaha.
The wrongful death suit alleges Wal-Mart was negligent for failing to properly train its employees to prevent them from overfilling grocery bags and knowing when to double bag a customer's groceries.
And, the suit says, the defendants provided Lynette Freis with a defective grocery bag.
Her estate is seeking more than $656,000 in medical expenses, plus an unspecified amount for her pain and suffering and funeral and burial expenses, as well as her husband's loss of consortium.
Neither Wal-Mart nor the other defendants has filed an answer to the allegations yet, but Wal-Mart attorney Heidi Guttau-Fox sought the move to federal court.
Reached Tuesday, Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove extended condolences to Lynette Freis' family.
"Customer safety is a top priority, and we take it seriously any time an injury is reported in one of our stores," he said.
Hargrove said the company is investigating the allegations and will respond appropriately in court.
I'm just guessing here, but the thin-bag syndrome you've noticed may be a result of recycling. With the increased cost of oil (going back 10 years or so), recycling plastics seems to have become more and more common in consumer goods.
I first became aware of the difference when buying a bunch of plastic DVD cases for a video project - the store pointed out that the cheap cases were made of recycled plastic and were, well, cheap. The better cases, like what you would expect to come with a purchased movie, cost considerably more, but were made from "virgin" plastic and were much better made. Somehow, I doubt most stores are too concerned about the quality of plastic that goes into their bags, just concerned about the price....
The person who bagged it handed her a bag that they knew was over stuffed, and did so as a professional.
But I am sure there is no liability there.
Of course it wasn’t self-inflicted. But that doesn’t mean Walmart is culpable. It means it was an accident and sometimes we have to grow up and deal with the consequences of accidents.
If the Walmart employee had dropped the can on her foot, sure, there is probably some issue with culpability, responsibility.
But anyone who has shopped at a store in the US in the last 10 year knows that the plastic bags suck. Period. And the bag manufacturers and stores were hounded into using those bags by the environmental lefty whackos. If you want to hold someone accoutable, hold them accountable.
Given that these bags suck, when I go to the store, I tie up my bags when I am leaving; I double bag heavier bags; I don’t have them put things like a gallon of milk in a bag because that would be stupid.
You are calling a minimum-wage high school graduate behind the cash register a “professional”? Please.
It does not always work that way, especially when you knowingly use crappy bags and your employee over loads the bag resulting in death.
I am certain the woman sought medical attention, few with a broken toe would not.
She may have gotten Staph at the hospital.
But I don’t see how the shopper was negligent and nobody else is.
Well, at least the ones who do good jobs, and don't steal from them, or set up fraud and theft rings...
Most people of low, middle, or average intelligence who have a small open wound, wash it with soap and water, douse it with peroxide, and put some neosporin and a band-aid on it.
This country is in dire need of Tort reform!
I ask for items to be double bagged and sometimes the handles still break. This was at my grocery store. They are not made like they use to be.
Plus, every chain including Walmart sells polyester fabric shopping bags and encourages people to use them. Some stores even give nickel discounts for using "green" recyclable bags instead of paper or plastic.
The jobs pretty simple.
Could you at least do it right?
If you order a $4K electronic item and it arrives smashed, due to improper packing would you just eat it?
Sorry. I disagree with you. Once she picked that bag up and took possession of it she knew it was overloaded. Period. She has to take some responsibility. If there would be culpability, it would be if she asked for different bagging and was refused. But, nothing in the story suggests that happened.
How do you prove it broke at all? Her word is all you have.
That is not the same situation. If she walked outside and the can broke open, she could ask for a replacement. And Walmart would oblige. Here is your new can of LaChoy.
They changed their bags to be “environmentally correct”. The bags are thinner and will start to decompose in sunlight in a hour or so.
That paid Associate stuffed over 7 lbs of goods in a single sack.
...and she accepted it. Case closed. Yeesh. I'm done with this. I've already wasted more energy than it deserves.
Oh, you're correct in everything you say, but regardless, Wal-Mart and the plaintiff (or rather, plaintiff's amubulance-chasing lawyer) will find a number and settle it quickly.
Yeah, you are right, this situation resulted in death.
Good karma on you brother.
“People know that today’s plastic bags are thin. Some customers only want one.
When I was last in the states, it was common for the checkout clerk to ask “paper or plastic”. Is that no longer a choice?
Where I live now, there are no paper bags for anything. Everything, down to a piece of candy, goes into a plastic bag. The bag thickness increases with size.
One day only criminals will have LaChoy.
+1 on that, dude.
Sometimes people make stupid decisions that result in their death. It doesn’t mean that someone else always has to be responsible. Happens all of the time. Kiddo died hiking in the national park here the other day. In fact, people die up there almost weekly. Maybe we should close those hiking paths, just too dangerous, they result in death?
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It’s why I ask for heavy stuff to be double bagged.
OK, sir, your total comes to $42.75. Will you be carrying your purchase in our plastic bags? Ah, you will? Then I need you to sign this waiver. If you don’t sign the waiver, your purchase price will be refunded and we will retain the merchandise and bags.
“I hereby affirm that the bags supplied by this store have been inspected by me and I see no danger in using them. However, in the event of a bag breaking, I do not hold the store or any employee, supplier, or related entity responsible. Signed, customer.”
Wow! I can’t believe all the people here who think there is a good case. I feel sorry for them. It is sad but come on??? All of you who agree with this lawsuit need to watch my favorite Southpark episode featuring the Sexual Harassment Panda.
OH! Bag politics are quite the rage right now. In some storms, grocery, you get a choice of paper, plastic, or the bags you bring in. But, then you get into places like Boulder where you will now pay a “bag tax” if you use a plastic bag because they are bad for the environment.
Liberals are so freaking confused. We had to switch to plastic because paper bags were destroying the forests. Then we had to bring back paper because they were more environmentally friendly. Now we have to use reusable bags because they are the “most” environmentally friendly. Except reusable bags are not clean, and spread things like salmonella and e-coli.
We are in a mess here.
How is this any different that reaching for a heavy box on the store shelf and having the bottom of the box fall out resulting in injury to your self?
Do we just accept shoddy crap with the caveat buyer beware?
Ever had a soda drink fridge pack break open and drop soda cans on your foot? It happened to me.
LOL! this is so true!
Again. She completed the purchase, it was her property, she accepted the bag and walked some distance knowing it was not properly bagged and did nothing to resolve it.
Your what if scenario is not analogous.
I wouldnt put a whole lot of faith in those bags either.
I have had one of those bags that was only a few weeks old fail on me.
The threading on the handle was so weak that the handle just ripped off the bag. Fortunately my wife was carrying the bag at her side and the contents hit the ground and not her feet.
Tort law has a term “proximate cause” which means the harm must be reasonably foreseeable for the harm caused to be a negligent act. Here, the death is too far removed from the bag breaking to be such a wrongful act. Case dismissed, costs charged to the plaintiff.
Where does the shopper’s responsibility start and the vendor’s stop, for freak accidents? The deep pockets phenomenon has bent America’s sense all wacky for it punishes the conscientious rather than rewarding them. I reluctantly grant that since she was on the premises still, the store will have to eat something, if not all of it.
I bought boxes of 12-ga shotgun shells at a local sporting-goods store. The clerk put it all in one plastic bag. When I picked up the bag from the counter, the bag broke and the shells flew out if the boxes all over the floor. Luckily, none hit my toe or I could have sued! I asked for a double bag, scooped them up and was on my way. The look on other customers faces was priceless, as I bought a large quantity that day.
It is the baggers job to bag it properly, not hers.
If I pay someone to balance my tires I expect them to be balanced, if on the way home I feel a sudden resonance at 70 MPH and a wheel falls off is it my fault for not double checking the tire technicians work?
a torn bag with stuff cascading out is a pain.”
Particularly if you didn’t plan on serving the entire carton of eggs scrambled.
Who knows how the lottery will turn out. As “reasonably foreseeable” makes so much sense the feelgood dogooders will not want to hew to it.
You didn’t even check for dents? :-)
” Now we have to use reusable bags because they are the most environmentally friendly. Except reusable bags are not clean”
Yes, and you have to carry them with you to the store.
ALL of my plastic bags are reused, either to store things here in the house or for bagging tubes of ice that I sell to the neighbors, fishermen, and juice vendors.
So you admit you accepted the shoddy product/work!
If the product had been damaged, would you have asked for it to be replaced or would you just eat it?
It was no fault of your own was it?
This woman died.
And if one of those cans bipped some one below in the head, who is responsible?
First, they aren’t baggers, they are checkers. And, once she picked up the bag (going down the road at 70 MPH), and felt how heavy it was, she should have had it double bagged or put into more than one bag.
The person driving at 70 MPH and feels the wheel unbalanced has an obligation to stop and pull over to the side of the road. If they continue down the road at 70 MPH with the wheel shaking and lose a wheel and cause a wreck, they are responsible. She continued down the road and an accident happened.
Yes I have. I was carrying it in to work and the glued seam just ripped open. I looked at the folded seam and there was just the thinnest line of glue to hold the box closed.
I now always carry those boxes supporting it from the bottom and never use the carry handle. I also never use those boxes in the fridge the way they are intended to be used either. Having that box fail in the fridge when I open the door does not appeal to me.
What are “they” going to do about a broken toe?
Clean it, disinfect the wound and tape it up? I can do that.
Now if it was a compound fracture with broken toe bone splinters piercing my skin, even I would probably seek professional medical attention.
My local walk-in clinic will charge me about $150.00 for that level of treatment.
The ER would charge about $1500.00.
You seem to be very intent on blaming someone else for the woman's toe injury.
I have to wonder why?
Is that how you make a living?
It happened on their property and was caused by someone not doing their job.
You are one tough monkey!!
It’s a scam.
They are killing themselves for money.